After recent news from Ontario’s authorities that there will be a lift on some lockdown restrictions in the province, certain sectors have already started preparations around restarting operations. Last Friday, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment Jim Lawson has publicly addressed the renewal of live harness racing events in the province which will be held under health and safety protocols.
Unfortunately, the 2020 Thoroughbred season was cut short due to the unprecedented situation, and the Standardbred season at Woodbine Mohawk Park has put a halt at some point along with the races at Western Fair Raceway, Rideau Carleton Raceway, and Flamboro Downs. Fans were unable to enjoy live harness competitions for a while but now the races are about to recommence.
According to Mr. Lawson, horse racing leaders have held numerous discussions with the provincial authorities regarding the restart of the industry. And they will continue to do so in order to prevent any future suspension of races provided that there is another lockdown implemented. The current plan is to continue racing activities at Flamboro Downs, Rideau Carleton Raceway, Western Fair Raceway, and Woodbine Mohawk Park, but that could change having in mind the always-changing scenery regarding the unprecedented situation.
A week ago, the backstretch at Woodbine Racetrack reopened its doors for some horsepeople and their horses. The president of the industry’s leaders wanted to remind everyone involved in the current recommencing of operations process that the health and safety measures must be followed and anyone not complying could face a fine of CA$750. Additionally, he encouraged that everyone should work together in protecting the horse racing people.
There are certain rules regarding traveling participants who will take part in the upcoming events in the province’s racetracks. For example, there will be a 10-day self-quarantine for traveling from another province to Ontario, but this can be avoided by providing a negative test that clears you from any unwanted illnesses. Then there are the US participants who must self-isolate for 14 days and if no symptoms are observed, the individual will be allowed to enter the property on the 15th day.
Mr. Lawson also took this opportunity to speak up about the Mohawk Million II event. He provided special thanks to everyone who has purchased a slot for the gala event, thus contributing to the industry’s wellbeing in these trying times. Also, he directed special gratitude towards Jessica Buckley, Bill McLinchey, and the entire team who has worked hard on the return of horse races in the province.
Reschedule of Winter Series
More news coming from the horse racing leader is that some of the Winter Series events at Woodbine Mohawk Park will be postponed to a later date due to the ever-changing conditions of the unprecedented situation. The Family Day Trotting Series and Wine & Roses Trotting Series are moved to March 8. Blizzard Pacing is now expected to be on March 11, and the Snowshoe Pacing on March 12. Valedictory Pacing Series and Niagara Pacing Series finals are subject to change too but official dates are still not announced.
The race track most recently announced that there will be four additional racing events at the end of March. The first one being held on Thursday, March 25, closely followed on the next day March 26 with another one, then there is one for Saturday, March 27. And the last one for the month being eyed on Monday, March 29. All of the events will share the exact starting hour at 7:00 p.m.
Source: “Industry Update from Jim Lawson”, Standardbred Canada, February 26, 2021